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History of Sim Racing – Geoff Crammond’s Revs

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Hello there!  This is a project I have fantasized about taking on for a long time and I think I'm finally ready to take the plunge.  The idea is this: a "history of sim racing" told via a series of reviews - in chronological order by release date - of some of the most iconic (as well as some of the not-so-iconic) racing sims of all time!

So, why does my opinion matter?  Well, it really doesn't...but I do think I may be able to bring an interesting perspective to how the sim racing landscape has taken shape over the years.  A brief bio with what I think are some pertinent details:

I'm 36 years old, so certainly not an old dude by any stretch, but at the same time I'm old enough to say I've been consistently gaming for 3 decades (not sure if that's impressive, pathetic, or both!)  My first experience with gaming was the trusty old NES, which I first got my hands on in 1986 and, being car-crazy (like a lot of little boys), I got my first exposure to racing games very shortly after (very likely Rad Racer or perhaps Excitebike).

My first foray into what would be truly thought of as a "sim" came a few years later when I got my hands on a X386 machine.  In addition to a lifelong passion for cars and racing, I am also a hard core aviation junky - in particular, anything from the world wars (or anything in between), but especially WWI.  As you would suspect, I spent many countless hours on the original Red Baron, but also probably a dozen or so other flight sims over the years.

As my interest in motorsports went through peaks and valleys over the years, so did my dabbling in driving sims - several different titles (some of which I hope to review), but honestly never with the same consistency or enthusiasm with which I pursued flying sims.  About 5 years ago, that all changed.  I was sitting on my couch one day playing some Forza 3 when I had a thought pop into my head - "hmm, I had a lot of fun with 'Dirt to Daytona' with that cheap FFB wheel I had when I was in college".  Within a couple days, I had procured one of the original Xbox 360 Microsoft FFB wheels and, though I didn't know it at the time, the proverbial ball was rolling towards a cockpit, Thrustmaster TX, triple monitors, and a hard drive full of more sims than I'll ever have time for!

As anyone has raced with me can attest to, I'm far (FAR) from fast, but I've worked very hard at getting faster over the last five years through making an effort at grasping how the real-life physics of racing work and then trying to build an understanding of what mechanisms the various sims utilize to attempt to convey those forces to us.  I'd like to think the fact that I am far from a "natural" has led me to develop a keen critical sense of how well a given sim does/doesn't provide cues to coach you into faster laptimes.  That's what I tell myself at least, and I hope to apply some of that acquired sense to the reviews that I produce.

What is my high level goal here?  Really, I hope to get a new perspective on how the hobby has evolved over the years - primarily for my own edification, but I thought I may as well post it here as other like-minded individuals may like to read what I have to say (and provide thoughts of their own).  Some questions off the top of my head:  What sims have stood the test of time?  Which have not?  Who was truly breaking new ground?  Is the widely held accusation of modern sims being perpetual "science projects" a fair one?

On the other side of that coin, what I'm NOT trying to do is to definitively declare "the best sim" or "the 5 best sims" or even a relative ranking of the sims I review.  Yes, the reviews will certainly be peppered with my personal opinions and I won't shy away from calling a sim great (or garbage) should I feel that to be warranted, but that is really not my primary motivation.  I've not even been particularly scientific in selecting a list of 25 sims that I hope to review - I tried to get a nice spacing of genres, platforms, release dates, developers, etc, but the fact of the matter is, this is an enormous genre (even bigger if you squint a little and let the "simcades" in the door) so I had to make cuts.  Don't assume because I didn't review a particular title that I don't consider it a true "sim" or not worth the time to review or anything like that - it very likely could have been omitted for extremely arbitrary reasons.

So, without further fuss (and rambling on), the first sim up is a classic and I think a logical starting point for what we tend to think of in modern terms as a "sim" - Geoff Crammond's 1984 classic "Revs!"  Specifcally, I'll be putting the C64 version (called "Revs+") through its paces.  I've already got quite a bit of wheel...err...I guess "keyboard" time in on this sim, so I'm hoping to have a review up shortly!

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Nick will be producing a series of articles on his experiences with the classic racing sims and published on our articles web site, http://simhqmotorsports.NET.

First one for "Revs" is now online!

History of Sim Racing – Geoff Crammond’s 1984 classic “Revs”.
Nick Hill looks at what sim racing was 32 years ago.



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